Live Like a Greek Islander

Unique wrought iron work on the harbour front.  This building belongs to Panormitis monastery and currently houses a tourist shop specialising in Greek products.

The view from my office window.  Louis Lines comes in every Thursday morning. This week it brought a delegation from the Church of Cyprus who went round to Panormitis Monastery to meet with the Metropolitan. 

One never knows what one is going to see in Yialos. This intriguing and controversial vessel is 'Guilty', a floating work of art by Jeff Koons. The paintwork is inspired by wartime 'dazzle' camouflage. For more information, please click on the link.

A block away from the glamour of millionaire toys, these two elderly lions live above a traditional harbour taverna and could probably tell you a lot of stories if they could speak.

This old mansion on the Kali Strata has had a recent revamp.  Rag rugs are very much a part of the local heritage and there is still at least one old loom that I know of that is used to convert old garments into useful rugs.

A tough dandelion surviving on who knows what moisture between the flag stones near the top of the Kali Strata.

Yes, that donkey IS tethered to the car wheel.  It doesn't look as though the car has moved for some time as the back wheels appear to be flat, but the donkey is certainly still active - and vocal!

Although it is very hot we have quite a strong wind today and the water taxis are confined to the harbour for the day.  Many parts of Greece have a fire warning for today and the weekend as the combination of tinder dry countryside, limited water supplies and brisk breezes can be a recipe for disaster.  Devastating fires are a huge problem in Greece in the summer, not helped by the selfishness of arsonists.  This is why camping is illegal in Greece outside of designated areas.  We have never had a serious fire on Symi but the fear is always there, particularly as Symi is so desperately short of water and does not really have the resources to cope in such an event. The town hall has a list of all those islanders with pick up trucks that can transport water drums and this is how the fire was put out 10 or so years ago when a lorry went over a bend in the road above the Pedi Valley but that would not be much help if a fire started up in the forests on the top of the island that are inaccessible by road.

Summer water rationing has been implemented and we have been told that Chorio will receive water for a few hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings so that householders can put water in their cisterns to tide them over the days in between.  Down in the harbour we have had water shortages most mornings for a few hours but this is not affecting the cafes and restaurants around the front.  Symi has always been synonymous with water shortages as the island has no natural water supply and in the days before the water ships and the small desalination plant households were entirely dependent on harvesting the winter rains from their roofs and storing the water in big cisterns under the houses.  When I first came here twenty years ago each neighbourhood received water for one hour per week and how much you got depended on the rate of flow, regulated according to how much water was available.

Interestingly many of Symi's regular visitors first discovered the island in those days, when water was scarce, air conditioning unheard of and power cuts frequent but still fell in love with the island regardless and continue to come back year after year. Which goes to show that it is not necessarily creature comforts that make a holiday destination special.  Symi is a truly authentic Greek island experience.  Tourists and locals alike share the same joys and the same discomforts, they climb the same steps, eat in the same tavernas, shop in the same shops,  ride in the same bus.  If you want to live like a Greek islander, then Symi is the place to come!

Have a good weekend.


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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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